Cuba's accession to accord signals important step in global anti-rogue fishing effort

International agreement on illegal fishing close to coming into force

25 March 2016, Rome - Cuba has helped to edge forward global efforts targeting illegal fishing by acceding to a FAO-brokered international pact that now requires the adherence by just one more party before coming into force.

Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations agencies in Rome, Alba Soto Pimentel, today formally presented FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva with Cuba's instrument of accession to the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

"Cuba's accession to this international treaty is a sign of the political will of the Government of Cuba to contribute in an effective and concrete way in support of measures for the protection and sustainability of ecosystems and the preservation of marine biodiversity," Ambassador Soto Pimentel said.

For his part, the FAO Director-General strongly welcomed Cuba's accession. "I am sure it is an example which will be followed by many other countries in the Caribbean region," Graziano da Silva said.

The Agreement, which will create binding obligations, comes into force when 25 countries or regional economic blocs have deposited their instrument of adherence with the FAO Director-General. With Cuba's adherence 23 countries and the European Union, on behalf of its members, have deposited 24 instruments of adherence. Among the latest are Barbados, Guyana, Republic of Korea, South Africa and the United States.

Graziano da Silva has expressed confidence that the target of 25 could be reached by July this year.

Illicit fishing, which includes operating without authorization, harvesting protected species, using outlawed fishing gear and violating quota limits, may account for up to 26 million tonnes a year, or more than 15 percent, of the world's total annual capture fisheries output.

Besides economic damage, such practices can threaten local biodiversity and food security in many countries.

Port State measures set standards for inspection of foreign vessels that seek to enter the port of another State. Importantly, the measures allow a country to block ships it suspects of having engaged in illicit fishing and thereby prevent illegal catches from entering local and international markets.

To assist countries in building their capacity to implement the Agreement, FAO has convened a series of regional workshops around the world, with participation from over 100 countries.

By becoming party to and implementing the Agreement, States will be in a position to better achieve the objectives of the voluntary 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which seeks to promote the long-term sustainability of the sector.

Photo: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti
FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, and Cuban Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome, Alba Soto Pimentel.